BABY | TODDLER · VICTORIA | OAK HOUSE

DESIGNING A NURSERY WITH FENG SHUI

Back in December, shortly before Frankie’s second birthday and when it first occurred to me that a second child might be missing from our family, there was no doubt in my mind where that hypothetical second child would sleep. We had the perfect space for him or her, a small room right off our front entrance that we weren’t using at all.

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Okay, maybe not so perfect.

But envisioning a crib on the back wall of this room — late afternoon sunlight streaming through the stained glass window — was certainly motivating as we ripped out panelling, tore out the drop ceiling, drywalled over the original plaster walls, fixed electrical, refinished the original fir floors, added historic woodwork, primed and painted.

The problem was, by the time all that was said and done, I’d had an early miscarriage and I wasn’t sure I really wanted another baby after all. I bought a desk for the back wall instead and the room went into heavy rotation as an office/playroom. The second baby did eventually become part of our family plan again, but, by then, I found myself hemming and hawing over whether this room would serve us best as a nursery or whether we should continue to enjoy the room as we had been — as a playroom for our soon-to-be-two little girls.

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Logically, I knew that no one was holding a gun to my head and forcing me to figure things out anytime soon. Not only is our second baby not here yet (ETA late January), but, even once she arrives, she won’t need a 100 square foot space all to herself straight away. Most of the advice on the post where I detailed all our sleeping arrangement options was a very practical, “wait and see.”

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And while “wait and see” is, in fact, very practical advice, something in me (let’s call it pregnancy hormones) was pushing me to make a decision and get a space ready for baby now — whether that was a space in our bedroom, Frankie’s bedroom or here, in the den.

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As common/trendy as co-sleeping or sibling room-sharing is, especially in small spaces, our family’s preferred sleeping arrangement is everyone in their own space. We’re all exceptionally light sleepers (me, less so, but a new baby tends to turn me into one, at least temporarily) and generally find that walls and doors help everyone get the best night’s rest.

With that decision made, we moved forward with getting a door for the den, had it installed and I painted it. After that little job was completed, the rest of the nursery took all of an hour to set up. Pierre rebuilt the crib and I hung a shelf (taken from Frankie’s closet) for toys. Because the room had been renovated recently (freshly painted, etc.) and was already in use as a playroom (complete with small dresser for puzzles and art supplies, a book ledge, cozy rug and comfy reading chair) there really wasn’t much to do to make the room “ready.” Mid-January would’ve left plenty of time to convert it — and yet, once we’d decided that this was going to be baby’s space, I very much wanted to make it baby’s space.

I’m a little weird about this sort of stuff on a regular day, let alone when I’m nearly seven months pregnant, so I didn’t spend too much time questioning the practicality of losing a perfectly useable playroom three months before my due date — I just knew that spending three months touching and looking at “the baby’s things” was something I had to do.

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Turns out I’m not crazy! At least not according to a book called The Peaceful Nursery: Preparing a Home for your Baby with Feng Shui. I grabbed this book out of the design section of one of Victoria’s Oak Bay library branch, not expecting much because a) it features almost zero photographs and b) it was published in 2006 and c) it’s written by two white women living in California.

But then, from the first page, I was so intrigued. (My only encounter with Feng Shui up until this point being when an Asian couple refuses to consider a house located at the top of a t-junction on Love It or List It.) The basic premise — and I’ll gloss over a huge number of details here — is that your home, the way it looks and the way it’s organized, has a huge impact on your family’s happiness. Colours, possessions, layout (both your overall floor plan and furniture placement within rooms) all bring certain energies to your home, impacting health, happiness and success. With the arrival of a new baby being one of life’s greatest transitions, the nursery is a very important room to “get right” from a design perspective if new parents and baby hope to be healthy, content and well-rested.

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The book gives lots of straight-up Feng Shui nursery design advice (such as the crib should face the door and be located against a solid wall), but the authors acknowledge that the most important thing is for the nursery to be designed lovingly and deliberately, ideally well in advance of your baby’s birth so that you have time to bring lots of positive energy to the space. Reading the book didn’t make me change anything about the nursery; it more validated that seemingly impractical desire I had to set it up right now and sit in it.

But luckily, according to the Bagua Map featured in the book, my nursery (and our whole house really!) has good Feng Shui, just based on our existing floor plan and what I felt were natural furniture placements within rooms. Our master bedroom, for example, is ideally located in the back left Wealth and Power location, considered a “command position” within the home. Meanwhile, all our art supplies, most of our children’s toys and our computers and music are in the Creativity zone, while our dining room table is smack in the middle of Health. This same Bagua Map can be applied within rooms as well as within your overall home. I have an easy one to super-impose because my house is a single-storey square.

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Within the nursery itself, here’s how I’m practicing good Feng Shui:

  • Crib located against a solid wall with a view of the door, but not directly in line with the door (where powerful energy could rush in and disturb baby’s sleep)
  • Nature view from the crib — a window that looks out onto the porch and the floral stained glass window above it
  • No extreme colours or busy/active patterns (are too “awake” and will disturb sleep)
  • Generally uncluttered with an open space in the centre of the room so energy can circulate
  • Filled with natural materials like wood, wool and linen
  • Hand-me-down and handmade objects filled with family memories, like Frankie’s crib, afghan made by her great-grandmother (my side), an art piece made by Pierre’s grandmother, driftwood wall hanging made by me
  • No mobile looming overhead (frightening to a baby)

In fact, as far as I can tell, the only thing that’s not “right” about this space in terms of Feng Shui is the giant map hanging on the wall above her crib, but that’s literally the only wall big enough in our whole house to hold it, so it’s most definitely staying where it is!

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It may sound a little woo woo to some of you, but it makes perfect sense to me that making physical space in your home for a new baby is very much related to the soul work of making space in your heart and life for a new baby. And while the health and happiness of my second baby is TBD, I can’t deny that Frankie Rose — whose nursery was designed with an inordinate amount of love and attention and where I brought positive energy for (ridiculously) entire seasons — was the happiest and healthiest baby (not to mention an unreal sleeper) and remains a happy and healthy kid. (Her crib was located under a window — very little I could do about that in her tiny nursery — but she still turned out okay.)

If you can’t already tell from these photographs, the nursery is just-recently done (Pierre hung those beautiful linen curtains a few days ago), but I still have the very enjoyable (and important!) job of sitting in the chair with my book and/or tea and just bringing lots of good, welcoming, loving energy to the space.

Did you put your nursery together in your first, second or third trimester? Or maybe you skipped the nursery entirely? What is your experience with Feng Shui? Total BS or are you into it?

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